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Compare Laser vs Inkjet Printer Costs

Laser Printers

Laser printers are one of the two most common types of printers, both for home and office use. They work by using a laser beam to project an image onto a drum. The drum then transfers that image to paper, using dry ink, through a process that involves heat and direct contact.

How Much Do Laser Printers Cost?

Laser printers for home use usually cost about $75 to $200.

For the office, low-end laser printers start at about $300. For a mid-sized office, budget anywhere from $500 to $2,000. High-end printers with network connectivity sell for $5,000 to $15,000 or more.

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Laser Printer Pros

  • Speed - Laser printers spit out documents much faster than inkjet printers. They’re ideal for businesses with high-volume printing needs. Even the paper trays are capable of holding more documents.
  • Operating costs - You’ll end up paying less per page with a laser printer because the ink lasts longer.
  • Network connectivity - Laser printers tend to have greater options in terms of network connectivity, allowing you to send faxes, scan documents, or even scan documents to email.

Cons

  • Upfront cost - Laser printers are more expensive to purchase.
  • Paper options - Laser printers only work with certain types of paper, and photo paper is not one of them.
Laser Printer

Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers, the other popular choice, spray small bits of liquid ink through a nozzle and onto the paper. A tiny plate guides the ink’s path to produce the desired letters and images. With inkjet printers, the ink is stored in disposable cartridges.

How Much Do Inkjet Printers Cost?

Inkjet printers are less expensive than laser printers. Inkjet printers for home use start at about $30 and range upwards of $200. Basic models for the office start at $100. Small and medium-sized businesses can usually find a good inkjet printer in the $300 to $700 range, while high-end models are priced at $1,000 and up.

Inkjet Printers Pros

  • Quality - Inkjet printers are known for producing extremely high quality photos and documents.
  • Price - Generally, inkjet printers are less expensive upfront.
  • Paper options - Inkjet printers can be used on all types of paper, including photo paper.

Cons

  • Recurring costs - Despite the lower upfront expense, replacing ink is much more costly with an inkjet printer. You’ll go through ink cartridges much faster.

Choosing a Printer

It used to be that inkjet printers were exclusively used at home, while laser printers were reserved for office environments. But that has changed as technology has improved. So how do you know which type of printer best meets your needs?

If you’re planning to print a lot of photos or print on non-paper items such as CDs or fabric, you’re better off with an inkjet printer. For these tasks, inkjet printers perform better. Inkjet printers also tend to be smaller and lighter, so they’re a good choice if space is a concern. Laser printers are faster, so they’re a better choice if you need to print in large volume. And they do a better job printing on plain office paper - the text will be crisper and cleaner.

Once you decide whether to go laser or inkjet, it’s time to start thinking about features. Do you want a plain printer or an all-in-one model that allows you to copy, scan and fax documents? Do you want the printer to have wireless capabilities? Do you want it to have a memory-card reader to print photos without a computer? Do you need networking capabilities? Deciding which features are must-haves before you start shopping will make it easier to choose a printer.

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